Tips for Maintaining Long-Term Sobriety

Published On: June 15, 20223.9 min read787 wordsCategories: Recovery

Anyone who has struggled with substance use disorder can tell you that sobriety is a daily challenge. Relapse is common, with 40-60% of people in recovery from substance use disorder experiencing a relapse during the first year.

This is why many people with substance use disorder, even after decades of sobriety, consider themselves in recovery rather than recovered. In this article, we’ll explain how sobriety changes over time and provide tips for securing your recovery progress as you reach new benchmarks.

One month sober

Once detox is over, you can start to worry less about mitigating the physical distress of recovery and focus on making mental changes. This will mark a significant shift in your treatment because this is when the power shifts from the pull of cravings to your mental strength.

At a month into recovery, focus on reinvesting in yourself and taking care of your health. Your system has just undergone a complete overhaul, so support it with nutritious food, regular exercise and rest. In addition, care for your mental health by continuing to work with your treatment team and attend meetings. The support of a community of like-minded peers is crucial to maintaining your recovery efforts.

Six months sober

While cravings to use drugs or alcohol may linger for months or years, after six months in recovery, the worst is over. Reaching six months in recovery is a significant victory. However, while you’ve successfully made it through the most common period in which to relapse, don’t let your guard down completely.

At six months into recovery, consider the strategies you’re using to avoid substances. Reflect on which of these strategies are working well and actually making an impact on maintaining sobriety versus which are falling flat.

One year sober

After one year of successfully maintaining sobriety, you may have surprised yourself by already achieving most or all of the goals you set early on in treatment. For instance, maybe at this point you have stable employment, secure housing and repaired relationships. This means it’s time to set new, longer-term goals.

As you look toward the future, don’t forget to celebrate your victories, even the small ones, and acknowledge all that you’ve already accomplished so far. You deserve to enjoy the feeling of freedom from substance abuse. 

Two years sober

After a couple of years free from substances, you might be tempted by the idea of an occasional use. Don’t be fooled, once you’ve struggled with addiction there is no such thing as casual use again. Any slip-ups could quickly spiral into a full-fledged relapse.

Recommit to your sobriety goals, pledging to avoid recreational drug or alcohol use, even on special occasions. Temporarily feeling good from a substance isn’t worth jeopardizing your progress and hard work, or the guilt you would face afterwards.

Five years sober

Staying sober for five years proves that whatever you’re doing to manage your triggers and handle your emotions to avoid relapse is working. While you may have participated in outpatient treatment or stayed in a sober living home for some time, most individuals have been able to scale back on treatment by this milestone. 

Still, it’s a good idea to stay involved with some form of recovery support. Whether you meet weekly with your sponsor, attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous or partake in therapy with a licensed counselor, it’s essential to have an outlet when you need encouragement.

Ten years sober

While sobriety is never guaranteed to be permanent, at ten years out you can surely say that you’ve achieved something marvelous and changed your life completely. While you may still face temptations to use substances, your body and mind have been liberated from addiction.

Now that you’ve achieved a full decade of sobriety, think about how you can “pay it forward” and use your experiences in recovery to help others. Many people in long-term recovery from substance use disorder choose to pursue careers or volunteer work in a field that can help others in the same situation, like addiction counseling, social work, psychiatry or nursing.

Life-long sobriety

Maintaining sobriety in the long-term is a feat that receives little recognition from society, but is one of the bravest obstacles to be overcome. While sobriety changes over the years, it’s always yours to claim ownership over, knowing your actions, your perseverance and your commitment made all the difference.

If you’re ready to begin the first day of your life-long sobriety, check out Freedom Detox. Inpatient care and medical monitoring can help you bear through withdrawal and embark on your journey to a life unimpeded by drugs or alcohol. Call 800-475-2312 today.

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